Thursday, 31 May 2012

Nachrichten über die Militärregierung Venezuelas

Der Caudillo Chávez hat jetzt 3 Millionen Twitter-Follower. Ein anderer Militär, Carlos Mata Figueroa, den Chávez als Kandidat für die Gouverneurstelle des Bundesstaates Nueva Esparta auserkoren hat, hat darum ein Haus an die Frau geschenkt, die diese Follower Nr 3000000 geworden ist. Die Frau ist 22 Jahre alt oder jünger...nun hat sie ein Haus...von Staatsgeldern - nicht von den Chávez-Bonzen- bezahlt. Es gibt ein paar Millionen Menschen, die immer noch auf Sozialwohnungen warten, sie müssen aber länger warten, denn die Militärs bauen trotz Recorderdöleinnahmen weniger Sozialwohnungen jährlich als zu den Zeiten vom Erdöl für $12 pro Fass (d.h. vor 14 Jahren).
Bananen, von Linke-Anhängern "Linksnationalisten" genannt

In Caracas haben zwei Polizisten der Alcaldía de Caracas - von der Opposition verwaltet- zwei Kokainhändler auf frischer Tat ertappt. Leider waren die Kokainhändler nicht nur Kokainhändler, sondern Beamte der Nationalpolizei CICPC, die von der Militärregierung kontrolliert wird. Die CICPC-Menschen haben zurückgeschossen und andere Kumpel von ihnen haben die zwei Caracas-Polizisten festgenommen.

Diese ist die Regierung, die der in der DDR geborene Professor Michael Zeuske - Berater für den DAAD - in seinen Büchern lobt.

Später werde ich über Zeuske Bücher zur "Geschichte" Venezuelas.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Syrian children get murdered, Chávez sends diesel to Syrian regime

We hear about the massacre of 32 Syrian children during the latest clashes between the Assad troops and the rebels. And just a few days ago the Chávez regime shipped diesel to that Assad regime badly needed to move their tanks. The Western had applied sanctions to Syria and Chávez helps his pal to circumvent such sanctions.

The Chávez military regime has already sent three diesel shipments to the Syrian forces. A fourth one is planned.
Picture taken in Venezuela in 2006. Chávez next to Assad. "Breaking the Blockage. Venezuela  is to be respected!"

Will Brazil say nothing? Colombia? No, because they have a wonderful trade surplus with the Chávez regime.

And on the other side, we have this: US troops killed yet again another peaceful family...collateral damage, like many thousand of other cases in the last few years.

People never learn.

It's cheap, give me two: Venezuelans in El Imperio

Venezuelans were among the top visitors to the US in 2011, which is not surprising at all.

On this chart you can see the top visitors to the United States for last year. Sources come from here and here. I reordered them by tourist per inhabitant. That is: I divided the number of tourists from country X by the population of said country X.

More than half the Canadians went to the US in 2011. That is not astonishing, considering that most Canadians live less than 70 kilometres from the USA border and they can freeze to death if they travel rather to the north. Mexicans are less likely to visit their pals but almost every second Mexican city visit his gringo neighbours last year. Britons love their former colony and Australians are also have an intense relationship with the USA, so they are also among the most loyal visitors to that country. Then you see the rich Dutch, the also very rich Japanese, the still wealthy South Koreans, French, Germans...and Venezuelans.

Venezuelans are more likely to visit the US than Brazilians, even if Brazilians have a higher income per capita than Venezuelans. You can say Brazil looks rather to the South and you will have a point there. Brazilians inundated Argentina. But Brazil has also kept stronger links to Europe throughout the decades. Brazil's population hubs are mostly very far to the South. Venezuela's bigger cities all face to the Caribbean. I reckon Venezuela's government ain't happy with that.
The current Venezuelan regime imposed a strict currency control back in 2003 and it has become tighter: a Venezuelan citizen can only get so much in foreign currency per year for tourism. She has to prove her expenses by showing every single purchase bill if requested. This and many other things in Venezuela's subsidized economy have led to a huge black market. Venezuelans - the privileged revolutionaries or majunches alike - keep buying dollars and euros in that black market because they don't know when the bubble will burst but they do know it will. That is why many Venezuelan tourists also use their trip to the US to open a US account or to take with them as many dollars as they can to their old US accounts.

With a fraction of what is in Venezuelans' account in the US we could easily pay for a thousand new schools in Venezuela.

One of Chávez's honchos, former Acción Democrática, former Causa Radical politician and now PSUV leader Aristóbulo Isturiz once said the Chávez government couldn't do without the currency control because "it would fall right away". And sure it would...even if the country does need to do is this currency control that keeps a powerful elite - left and right - becoming immensely rich at the cost of María González with her 6 kids in Maturín or Guanare.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Southern Portuguesa

Portuguesa is one of our Llanos states. Portuguesa, obviously, literally means Portuguese (woman) and the first location in that region to get the name was the Portuguesa River. Legend tells us that river was named after a Portuguese lady drowned there during the Conquista. From history we know some of the first Europeans in the area were indeed Portuguese coming with the Spanish flow of conquistadores and settlers.
Before them the very first Europeans to see the place were the German Welser and their Spanish soldiers, who ventured into this area around 1530...and were very sorry to do so. It is a tough terrain with tropical diseases galore and the troops died like flies. The region is an extremely hot area, flooded during the rainy season and sun-baked in the dry months. There were few native Americans here compared to  other regions like the coast or the Andes. The ones living here were mostly Guamos and some other groups, mostly hunter-gatherers: the Llanos back then not being the best place for agriculture.

The Southernmost municipalities there are Papelón and Guanarito

Both municipios together make up about 33000 of the 17 million voters Venezuela had back in 2010. The combined area is around the size of Norfolk but with less than a tenth of Norfolk's population - the density is 6 and 11 pop/km2 for each municipality. This area is Llanos 100%: flat as it goes, with a lot of rivers - the Portuguesa being the one with the strongest flow. All rivers flow towards the Orinoco, one way or the other. 

Most of the land is owned by the State or by a few landowners. A lot of small farmers live in state land with  no property rights - sort of feudal style but with the right to move. 

Capibaras, excellent swimmers and tasty...Spaniards declared they were fish so that they could eat them on Friday and Eastern time
Collared peccary, looks like a wild boar but it belongs to a different genus
This is a cayman, a different genus from the gringo alligators and much so from the Nile crocodile

In the last parliament elections in 2010, candidates for the Chávez party got around 64.76% against 31.54% for the MUD in the first municipality and 63.88% to 32.89% in the second one. Portuguesa in general in one of the most pro-Chávez states of Venezuela. You won't find people there reading national newspapers but Últimas Noticias. Internet coverage is well below the 39% that is supposed to be the national penetration. Very few in Southern Portuguesa have access to radio or cable TV, so they won't hear any criticism on their radios or TV sets.

In the 2008 elections the candidate to the post of mayor for the MUD did not even get second or third place in Papelón, just fourth, with 3.9% of the votes. In Guanarito the candidate for the Chávez party won with 65.75% and the opposition didn't do as badly, just very bad, even if in this case it was split between different candidates. The old parties that used to dominate the area there, AD and COPEI, are  represented by dinosaurs and new parties such as PJ and UNT haven't got a presence there. The national  representatives of those parties hadn't learnt how to send customized messages to such regions. They still don't understand those regions need to hear about their specific projects for Guanarito, for Papelón, not for "Venezuela". This is curious: the new opposition parties are very keen on decentralisation but they haven't spent the time to customize their messages for each region. To do that they need knowledge about those regions. Right now they send a central message, one that is way too abstract for those regions.

This April the major of Guanarito, Villalba, was jailed for corruption. Some people in the region said the PSUV got very nervous with the level of corruption there but Villalba is just small fish. Almost no one elsewhere in Venezuela knows about this.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Das immer überraschende Venezuela

Die Gefängnisse in Venezuela sind im Jahr 14 der sogennanten "Revolution" in erbärmlicherer Lage als je zuvor.  Nun erfahren wir, dass die Gefangenen der Penitenciaria General im Bundesstaat Guárico gestern 40 Bewacher entfürten und für ihre Freilassung Motorräder, alkoholische Getränke und eine elektrische Anlage verlangten und bekamen. Die Gefangenen wollen die Motorräder benutzen, um in den Anlagen Rallyes zu organisieren.

In Venezuela gibt es wirklich keine Justizvollzugsanstalten und das seit dem 16. Jahrhundert nicht, wie der gute alte Alexander von Humboldt schon erzählte. Alle Gefangenen werden zusammengepfercht, es sei denn, sie haben viel Geld.

Das ist weiter so im 14. Jahr der Chávez-Regierung. Tatsächlich ist die Überbevölkerung in den Gefängnissen schlimmer als in den vierzig Jahren, in denen Zivilisten das Land regierten und das obwohl der Erdölpreis und darum auch die Einkommen des Landes so hoch wie nie zuvor sind.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Verbrechen und Militär in Venezuela

Die Unruhen im Gefängnis La Plata, in Caracas, kamen zu Ende. Die Ministerin für Justizvollzugsangelegenheiten (sic), Iris Varela, hat mit den Gefangenen einen Deal gemacht. Die Details kennen wir nicht. Nach vielen Tagen Schiesserei kam es zu Ruhe und die Menschen wurden zu anderen Gefängnissen -die auch gerammelt voll sind - abtransportiert. Ein Unbeteiligter in einem Gebäude in der Umgebung war bei dieser Schiesserei getötet worden, einfach Pech.

Nun durfte die Guardia Civil, die in Venezuela auch Gefängnisse überwacht, in die Anlagen hineinkommen. Angeblich fanden sie gar keine Waffen, auch wenn sie sich mit den Menschen drinnen seit Wochen einen heftigen Schusswechsel geliefert hatten. Sie fanden 9 verbrannte Leichen. Anscheinend wurden die Abwesenheit dieser Ermordeten während des Gefangentransports nicht bemerkt. Die CICPC, die Zivilpolizei, wollte auch hineingehen und die Sache untersuchen. Die Militärs haben das aber nicht zugelassen.

Seit Jahrzehnten werden hunderte Menschen in Venezuelas Gefängnisse umgebracht. Die Zahl der Toten hat sich aber, wie ausserhalb dieser Anlagen, vervielfacht. Die Militärs sollen diese Gefangene überwachen, diese Gebäude sind aber voll Waffen. Es handelt sich nicht bloss um Messer. Es handelt sich um Maschinengewehre allerart, um jede Menge Granaten, um Schusswaffen für jeden Geschmack. Kokain und alle anderen Drogen kommen dazu. Und die Bewacher verdienen dabei.

Nun kommt der Caudillo Chávez und sagt, es gäbe ein neues Programm, eine neue Mission, A Toda Vida, Venezuela. Ich weiss nicht, wie man das übersetzen soll. "Voll am Leben, Venezuela"? Vielleicht. Diese Mission soll eine Verwandlung der Gefängnisse mit sich bringen...wir sind im Jahr 14 der sogenannten Bolivarischen Revolution. Es gibt Wahlen im Oktober in meinem Land.

Daniel schreibt mehr darüber auf Englisch, u.a. hier.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Wovon lebt ein Lehrer in Venezuela?

Ein Dozent mit 5 Jahren Erfahrung verdient in Venezuela ungefähr 3000 Bolívares pro Monat. Damit kann eine Familie von 5 Personen etwa 85% ihrer Nahrungsmittel einkaufen.

Ein Ehepaar von zwei Dozenten wäre gar nicht in der Lage, nur mit ihren Jobs drei Kinder und sich selbst zu ernähren, geschweige denn noch dazu eine Miete für eine Wohnung zu zahlen.

Schullehrer hatten es vor Chávez nicht leicht. Ihr Lebensniveau war aber nicht so niedrig wie jetzt.
Venezolaner haben ein Hühnchen zu rüpfen mit dem Caudillo

Wenn Chávez weniger in Waffen ausgeben würde, könnte der Staat Lehrer besser entlohnen.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Venezuelan Doppelgänger


What is the difference between Maximina Guillén de Villasmil, a lady born on 15 November 1938, voting in the Sucre municipality of Mérida, and Maximina Guillén de Villasmil, a lady born on 15 November 1938 who votes in the Sucre municipality of Mérida? Nothing...only their ID: one has ID 9068611 and the other 2276514 (at least until today, the CNE may modify this after reading this post, but there are records distributed to journalists abroad). There are thousands of "Doppelgänger" in the Venezuelan registry. Sometimes there are two records with the exact name and birthday in the same voting centre, sometimes the voting centre is another, most of the time but not always in the same municipality. They are less than 40000 and yet they are just the most obvious top of the iceberg in a mess called Venezuelan national electoral registry. In any country you will find a couple of persons with a very common name such a name as José Rodríguez, our John Smith, born on the same day but not when you have 4 full names on a row and not when names are very uncommon. In many cases we have IDs that differ by a regular pattern, like with these:


or these:



SANTANA ROA YEYLIN EDIVE|1984-10-16|16609883
SANTANA ROA YEYLIN EDIVE|1984-10-16|16609882

The first field of these records is the full name of the voter, the second is the birthdate and the third the ID.

Who counts?

I have written before about Venezuela's electoral registry...basically stating it is a mess. There are many more patterns that hint at some tampering. 

In some countries you can go to vote straight away on election day without having to do anything before: the population registries are organised in such a way that if you are a national of that country and you reach voting age, you are automatically placed on the list of voters, you just need to show up when there are elections or ask for a registry change if you move.

There are other countries where you have to register once for the first time and once every time you move from location. One such case is the USA (at least some states, readers can correct me here). 

In any case: in countries where you have to do the extra step and go to register for the first time one would expect some people not doing so, specially if the registry is not compulsory. 

The current Venezuelan government tells us the percentage of adult Venezuelans not registered to vote is very low, around 3.5%. Now, they also said there are around 19 million voters now. But the government-dominated Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas also said the country has 28,9 million inhabitantsThat means - if both are right - that 9610659 persons are under age or cannot vote in national elections because they are foreigners. That is 33.25% of the population. The average age of those registered in the CNE is around 43 years old. The average age of the Venezuelan is 26 years, according to the INE.

Now: how come abstention in Venezuela can range from 26% to 36%? Why do so many people bother to register in the first place? Actually: either the late Census doesn't make sense or it is the electoral registry that doesn't...or both...and that is why we won't get any detailed information about age distribution from the last census until well after the presidential elections.

Unfortunately, once you enter some records into the electoral system, it is very hard to get that system cleaned. You can ask people who are supposed to be older than 120 years to show proof that they exist (the government does it now). You could eventually request the same from the 20% who were born in October 1976 (not done yet) and so on, but who is going to control you if you actually work for the current government and you are in charge of the electoral registry?

Only if we could get witnesses at every voting centre can we be sure there is no massive tampering with results. And tragically, we do not have that capability outside Miranda and a few other Northern-central regions.
In blue: Venezuelan adults who have apparently registered to vote. In orage: adults who haven't registered to vote

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Do you know what a banana republic is? Wissen Sie, was eine Bananenrepublik ist?

Venezuela is without any doubt a banana republic. Public hospitals are neglected, there are less public libraries in a two million city than in a 30000-strong European village and parents rich and poor have to buy their children's textbooks. Still, the military regime is now giving subsidized plane tickets and subsidized dollars for people to go see Venezuelan pilot Maldonado in the Formula 1 competitions in Europe and North America.

Venezuela ist ohne Zweifel eine Bananenrepublik. Öffentliche Krankenhäuser sind heruntergekommen, es gibt weniger öffentliche Bibliotheken in einer 2-Millionen-Stadt als in einem 30000-Einwohnerdorf Europas und Eltern müssen alle Bücher ihrer Kinder kaufen. Trotztdem subventioniert die Militärregierung Flugzeugtickets und Devisen, damit die Leute den venezolanischen Formula-1-Fahrer Maldonado bei Wettrennen  in Europa und Nordamerika sehen.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


I asked you to tell me who you thought the greatest sycophants among Chávez's minions were.
The poll allowed for multiple selection.
Adulator maximus

And this is what you voted for:

Clearly, the former military coup-monger Diosdado Cabello comes first. Then we have former bus driver and current minister of foreign affairs Nicolás Maduro (my grandparents were farmers but then they didn't tried to deal with international relations or drive a bus). On third place we get notorious police officer Freddy Bernal. I agree with most choices but for Maduro. I think Maduro honestly loves Chávez. He is thus not really a sycophant but a true puppet. Most of the others are more on the profiteering side.

I put in green those who were military or whose dad was a military coupster (Izarra). I didn't put Adán Chávez on the  list because we know: familia es familia. This is about pure sycophants.

If Chávez really is healthy again (there are many who think he never was ill, something foreign journos dismiss as outrageous conspiracy theory), the whole discussion about a dauphin or dauphine becomes moot. Else, this is the list to watch, plus Chávez's daughters.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Chávez without cancer, beginning of new stories?

The military caudillo Hugo Chávez declared on his return from Cuba that his cancer treatment has been a success. From 1998 until a month or so before the cancer rumours spread, he and his people were denouncing plots against  his life every third months or so. Once Chávez announced he had cancer, the assassination attempts disappeared and the drama took another style.

Now that Chávez has announced for the second time that he has overcome cancer one can only wonder: will he and his employees start announcing once again about "magnicidios" on a quarterly base?

Stay tuned, it's election time.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Chávez tweeting and other things

This is Chávez's twitter account pattern since 1 March.
Does it mean something? Perhaps, perhaps not. Capriles should rather outvote and not just outlive the caudillo. Even if the caudillo's wealthy minions will probably get into a cataplectic state for a time, we can be sure the most powerful already have a plan B.

Why is Capriles' popularity still so low compared to that of the caudillo?
There are many factors. Among other things, Capriles doesn't have the petrodollars Chávez has. Chávez's regime gives Haier washing machines and refrigerators by the hundreds of thousands. Chávez has all the state media and Capriles has only access to channels that can only reach 30% of the population. Even after two former Chavista honchos started to tell their stories about corruption within the regime, their former colleagues - dodders to the petrostate - remain unrepentant...and most Chavista followers either don't care or don't understand what level of corruption have been attained.

But this is not the only reason why Chávez remains so popular. Capriles also lacks charisma. The popularity of one is largely based on the lack of charisma of the other. And why is this? The main reason is rather technical: he doesn't have oratory least not yet. And why is that? There are again many factors, but one of them is his previous lack of interest for reading. This is fairly common among Venezuelans, even among those from wealthy origins. Capriles has got formal education but unlike Chávez, he hasn't probably read more than what he needed to read to finish his studies or to understand technical reports. Chávez may not know that mankind is older than 25 centuries and he has read in a very chaotic manner, but he still has read key books and fragments of stories that touch all kinds of people people...Not for nothing did he read Les Miserables and the Count of Monte Cristo while he was in jail for his bloody coup in 1992-93. He has also trained for decades to tell all kind of stories - first in the soldier's barracks, then in the palace and on every TV. 

Capriles is visiting Venezuela house-by-house. This can seem impressive for some but it is not very efficient. He needs those oratory skills to address the masses and he needs to present his message in a moving story. 

Chávez, on the other hand, cannot rely forever on Haier refrigerators and the sympathies derived from his countless shows of the past. He needs to start travelling through Venezuela in August at the latest.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Human rights, Venezuela and the democratic opposition

The Venezuelan caudillo ordered his pawns to do the necessary paperwork to get Venezuela out of the OAS rights body. He thinks that by doing so his government will be less accountable for human right violations .

If you speak Spanish, you should listen to María Corina Machado, one of our opposition deputies.

Kudos to her.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Economist on the caudillo's council of state

Read The Economist for a good article on Venezuela's military strongman and the creation of the council of state. I very much agree with what they say.

It remains to be seen if said council does more than sing paeans to the comandante. Before 1 July we shall know.

Venezuela is one of the mid- to large-size American nations where the military have ruled the longest since independence, more so than Argentina, Chile, Colombia or Mexico

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Murder in Carabobo, 2012

Here you can see the evolution of murder figures for the central state of Carabobo. This evolution varies somewhat from state to state and from municipality to municipality. By far the largest amount of murders in Carabobo are committed in Southern Valencia, Libertador (South-West of Valencia) and Juan José  Mora, on the coast, where you find Morón and one of the largest oil processing plants in South America but most other areas are very dangerous as well.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Venezuela, an overview

Corrected (missing NOT)

Chávez approved a labour law. Daniel Duquenal wrote an excellent post about that

Venezuela's Alpha & Omega: oil prices
Chávez used his pathos yet again in a show where he announced this. He also talked about how he is going to besiege cancer. Then he left once more for Cuba to get cancer treatment. He definitely does not trust Venezuelan doctors. He will be in that island for some weeks. He refuses to give power to the vice-president for a single minute. People keep wondering whether the military strongman will die soon or whether it is all a scam.

It does not really matter: society keeps decomposing. Violence in Venezuelan jails got some space in Venezuelan newspapers yet again: prisoners in La Planta rebelled once more. There were shots, some got killed. As opposition candidate Henrique Capriles said, 5066 prisoners have been murdered in Venezuelan prisoners since 1999. Last year 560 humans were killed in our prisons. Prisons are just a continuation of slum violence, but more concentrated, with more weapons, more drugs, more of everything. Never mind we now have a minister for prisons. 

A few days ago, a prisoner of that same La Planta prison killed his girlfriend while the girl was "on conjugal visit". The girl knew him for 3 months only and yet she was visiting him there, something that would NOT be allowed in other countries with generous conjugal visit programmes. He started threatening her one month ago and yet she kept on going. After the jail employees found her and took her away to a hospital, the other prisoners killed the man,. It's so easy to kill a man in Venezuela. No one talks about the psychology behind all this and no one in Venezuela talks about how often women get abused and deal with this abuse. Psychopaths are widespread in Venezuela, as late psychiatrist and writer Herrera Luque said. No one discusses that. 

One more time, pressure is building up

I just talked to a good friend of mine...a Chávez supporter from a secondary city. We didn't talk about politics but the topic of violence came up. She, lower class, was kidnapped last year for half a day. I asked her if things are fine now. She said: yes, only that recently her daughter was almost raped, a man threatened to kill her baby if she didn't let herself be raped or pay 20000 Bs. That's several month's salary for a worker. "It was awful. But now things are fine", she said. I was speechless. She repeated several times: "things are fine now, not then, not then".

Humble supporters of this regime keep denying reality. They don't see another way. They couldn't get out of the country and they know no alternative. My friend knows things in her town were very safe a decade and a half ago. She says violence came with the many homeless that arrived from the Vargas region after the 1999 flooding. That was 13 years ago.

This is what the useless idiots in Europe and the States call a "revolution". Revolution my foot.